A significant Ferndale construction project is showing how much demand there is for storage space that can also house business start-ups.
Construction is underway for the Pioneer Flexspace Premium Storage Condominiums on Portal Way, about a half-mile north of the Pioneer Post Frame offices. The first of seven buildings is expected to be finished this month. Once completed, around the end of 2020, the 7.5-acre site will have 108 storage units covering about 225,000 square feet, or about two Bellingham Target stores.
Storing things such as RVs and boats is still a common use for these type of condos, but more often they are being used as places to turn ideas into businesses as well as establishing U.S. presence for existing Canadian companies, said Doug Scoggins, who owns Pioneer Post Frame. The company recently built 100 similar storage units along Portal Way.
The storage units are also used as mailing addresses, allowing Canadians to pick up packages ordered online, which generates sales tax revenue for the city.
Having a flex space for storage buildings is something new for Ferndale, which has given the city a chance to look at adapting to the changes. It’s similar to when they started addressing regulations for food trucks, said Riley Sweeney, spokesman for the city.
“It gives us an opportunity to take a fresh look at our codes and regulations to ensure that these buildings will be used for their intended purposes,” Sweeney said in an email.
Scoggins has noticed several trends that have created demand for these storage units.
Canadian businesses find the units are an attractive opportunity to establish a presence in the U.S. due to the weaker Canadian dollar, which is around 76 cents to the U.S. dollar, and higher land prices in British Columbia.
Residents are looking to the suburbs for storage for boats and RVs they are unable to store at home.
And for business start-ups, he said it’s a way for unit owners to try out a business idea at a relatively low cost. The 1,500-square-foot units, which come with a 712-square-foot loft, start in the $230,000 range, with investors leasing spaces at around $1,500 a month. The demand is such that they’ve already increased the sales price four times, Scoggins said.
Some of the businesses outgrow the space and eventually sell the units, while others prefer to stay. In the existing units it’s been a variety of companies, from plumbers to online marketers to restoration work, Scoggins said.